Dear friends and family,
Welcome to the latest edition of IT Tender's newsletter. May you be inspired by these updates and stories of the transformation happening right here in our community in Manila, Philippines.
"Celebrating Christ at Christmas"
by Jam Coffey
This year, IT Tender celebrated Christmas by remembering the birth of Jesus through a huge, unforgettable Christmas party. With a "Nativity" theme, the event was held on November 30th at Sucat Elementary School. Our Christmas party was enjoyed by 286 children (from our 3 communities in Alabang, Sucat and Putatan), 31 youth (volunteers who are also sponsor children of IT Tender), 6 staff, 28 visitors, 6 suppliers and 10 venue volunteers. Many of the suppliers and volunteers are the mothers of the children in our community. We were so blessed and amazed to remember how God showed His unconditional love to all of us through the birth of his son, Jesus, the Messiah.
Throughout the party we felt so much joy in our hearts, not just because of the food, gifts and games, but because we could celebrate the birth of our savior Jesus Christ, our redeemer. It was a time of rejoicing, because God is "Immanuel" (meaning "God is with us"). Watching the youth volunteers give their time and effort by leading this event was truly an inspiration. They wanted to help at the event because they love Jesus, they have faith in Him and they want to serve Him by any means.
We started the party with some warm up games, led by a few of the youth volunteers and our emcee's Theressa and Jericho (Sponsor-A-Child youth volunteers), followed by the opening prayer of Jam. Then we introduced the visitors, Extreme Response, Sir Mike and Ma'am Pat and friends, and Ma'am Grace. Following that, the youth led a skit called "The Little Drummer Boy" and Gabby shared a gospel message.
After some instructions and reminders, a number of activity booths sprang to life. The children enjoyed games, arts and crafts, food booths, a magic show by our friend Vern Tapp, and for the first time a Christmas Bazaar by our friends Ma'am Grace and Sir Keith! Children were thrilled and suprised by the Bazaar where they could each pick a few items of toys or clothing from a wide selection. Most of them picked the toys - as they don't often have the chance to receive toys at Christmas.
As the day came to an end, we enjoyed dance presentations featuring our tambourine dancers and the special participation of some of the boys from our youth volunteers. As usual, we also had a photo booth and ended with a group picture, as us Filipinos love taking pictures. Sir Jerry Carnill, the Director of Extreme Response International, led a closing prayer. And lastly, another exciting part for the children was the giving of the gifts and take-home dinners.
Throughout the party, we emphasized the real purpose for these festivities. We understand that the party is not all about us, not about the gifts we receive, not even the food we prepared, or the Christmas decorations. Rather, it is all about the "good news that will cause great joy for all the people, a savior has been born, He is the Messiah, The Lord Jesus Christ." - Luke 2:10-11. We are so grateful for the generosity of our partners Extreme Response and Action International. We also thank our donors Sir Mike and Ma'am Pat and friends, Sir Keith and Ma'am Grace for the Christmas Bazaar and Secret Santa for the sponsor children, and all the people who gave donations to IT Tender to make this event possible. May God continue to bless you generously as you are a blessing to others.
In addition, here are a few testimonies from our youth volunteers about their experience at the Christmas Party:
"As a volunteer, it's fun to be a part or to be one of those people who want to give joy and bring smiles to the children and to express the true meaning of Christmas. Their smiles eliminate the weight of the problems that you've experienced throughout the year. The difficulties fade away. You feel like it's been a while, but here you are giving children enjoyment, and children will end up smiling. You will feel the promise of the Lord every time it happens and it shows that we are His dear love for whom He gives His Son to help and save these children and even you and I. Surely if you have joy in your heart that the Lord has given to you then it is contagious, as I also see within my fellow volunteers. I do not know why we are the ones who get to have fun with kids rather than the many other young people of our generation just sitting around or in the dark. But I know that God has a plan, and I know that more youth will join us. I can see that we are still together to the end while helping and giving smiles to other people's lips." - Hanna (Sponsor Child / Youth Volunteer)
"For me, the party was particularly memorable this year as I was one of the Emcee's. It's so nice to have fun with the kids. Overall the party was amazing, and we especially enjoyed the presentations the youth volunteers prepared." - Theressa (Sponsor Child / Youth Volunteer)
by Warren (Sponsor Child / Youth Volunteer)
Organizing and leading the Christmas party may be exhausting, but it’s all WORTH IT. It is worth it because God also prepared a chance for us to relax and to have fun. We all knew that running a big event takes so much energy and effort, both physically and emotionally, but we have smiles on our lips because we feel accomplished and joyful. We offer our praise and thankfulness to God!
29 youth together with the staff went on a short, overnight retreat at the beautiful place of Noah’s Park, Rizal, Philippines on December 6th-7th. The first moment we took a step into the resort – we immediately did our mandatory selfie! - Hahaha! It may be funny, but it is what it is. Us Filipinos love selfies. Right after we checked in, almost all of us headed straight to the pool and leapt into the water, because we were so excited to swim. Of course, at this type of retreat, we also experienced some team building activities where we learned a lot. Ate Sasha (one of our visitors from England) facilitated the team building in which our brains and teamwork abilities were put to the test. Awesome!
Fellowship is one of the most important aspects of maintaining a strong foundation in our relationship with Christ. Our volunteerism and our retreat wouldn’t be possible without our God from whom every good gift comes from – our joy, our strength, our knowledge, our love – everything comes from Him. TO GOD BE ALL THE GLORY!
Other News and Updates
Before the epic Christmas party on November 30th, we held orientations for each of the three communities in advance of the party on November 24th, 25th and 28th. These orientations alone were a huge task for our staff and youth volunteers. This gave us time to explain the various activities and the flow of the actual party. Also at the orientation, our youth enacted "Part 1" of the two-part skit to create some anticipation for the finale at the actual Christmas party.
On December 1st, our partners at "U-Happy Events" threw a Christmas party for 25 toddlers and smaller kids at IT Tender's drop-in center. The kids enjoyed games, food, gifts, hygiene kits, balloon animals, and even a mini-Zumba dance party. This was a joyful and pleasant surprise from U-Happy.
On December 18th, IT Tender distributed bags of groceries for Christmas for 26 families in Sucat who have children attending our nutrition program. Then on December 19th, IT Tender held a party for all of the mothers with kids in our Sponsor-A-Child program. The mothers enjoyed a potluck dinner, games, a gift exchange, and their favourite pastime - karaoke! At the end of the night, each of the 43 mothers received a bag of groceries for their family. So a total of 69 families received groceries from IT Tender this Christmas season. God is good!
IT Tender also held our annual staff evaluation and planning seminar on December 15th. We thanked God for all He is doing through our programs for the community, and we look forward to another year of growth and transformation in 2019 for both IT Tender and the families we serve. We ended the evening with a simple Christmas party and gift exchange between our own staff and their families.
Lastly, we want to ask for your prayers for a need couple of needs in 2019. With the growing number of sponsor children at IT Tender, we are praying for more used laptops at our drop-in center for the kids and youth to accomplish their school assignments. If you or anyone you know has a used laptop that could be donated to IT Tender, please contact John Coffey at firstname.lastname@example.org (John's parents are travelling to Manila, Philippines on January 27th and can bring these along with them). The other big prayer of IT Tender for 2019 is to sponsor even more children! 83 children are currently able to go to school in Manila because of the compassion of donors who give just $25/month to cover the basic and educational needs of a child (i.e., daily transportation, medical expenses, school supplies, a number of annual events and more). Let's increase that number of children to 150 or more in 2019! If you or any friends or relatives would like to sponsor a child for just $25/month, please also contact John Coffey at email@example.com ...and we would be happy to send the profile of a child at the top of our waiting list in need of a sponsor. We thank the Lord for the opportunity to change lives by sending children to school!
Thank you for all your support and prayers over the last year. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your loved ones!
- The IT Tender Family